Senators propose bill to ban pork spending permanently

Sen. Pat Toomey on support for measure


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 24, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, just call it a pork chop. Amid calls in the House to bring back earmarks, two senators are pushing to wipe them out for good. Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Pat Toomey re-introducing a bill that would ban pork permanently.

The move is not getting widespread support in this latest session.

To Senator Toomey on what he does to get around that.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY, R-PA.: Good afternoon, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you make of the resistance you're encountering?

TOOMEY: Well, you know, it's going to be a battle. It always is. But we have made a lot of progress.

In the first -- last Congress, Senate Republicans adopted a moratorium on all earmarks, and the Democratic senators responded in kind. Now, for this Congress, Senate Republicans have already adopted a moratorium. We haven't heard from the Democrats yet. So I'm worried about backsliding.

That's part of the reason I'm introducing this bill. Earmarks are by their very nature an abuse and an avoidance of the way taxpayer dollars ought to be protected. And then, of course, they have just escalated totally out of control in the last few years. So, we're going to have to keep working. We have got some new members who will be very supportive of this, guys like Jeff Flake from Arizona and Ted Cruz from Texas and others. So, I'm cautiously optimistic, Neil.

CAVUTO: They say they're not earmarks if they just call them something else. They're earmarks, though, right?

TOOMEY: That happens sometimes, but there's no question that the number of ear marks dropped enormously in the last Congress with the moratorium in place.

Can I tell you there wasn't a single earmark anywhere? No, I couldn't guarantee that, but there were thousands and thousands of these in individual bills before we got this moratorium in place. Now you got to really scrub pretty hard to find a single one. So I just want to make this ban permanent. This is wasteful spending.

CAVUTO: Well, not really. In the case of Sandy, it was chock full of them. I know you pointed that out. The fact of the matter is, it got Chris Christie of New Jersey very upset, because he understood there was some pork in it.

TOOMEY: Yes. Yes.

CAVUTO: But, as he said, the greater good offset the bad stuff in there. What do you think of that?

TOOMEY: Well, and now we're in a new Congress, and that is a danger. You're absolutely right.

This is why we need to have a legislative ban. The American people get this. They don't send people to Congress anymore to see how much you can spend. They want to see how much we can save. People get that we're in a really bad place fiscally, and wasting money on these indefensible projects has really got to end.

CAVUTO: Are you troubled that that message didn't get through to the president? Because he only mentioned deficit once in his speech. He never mentioned debt at all in the speech. What did you make of that?

TOOMEY: Neil, there wasn't enough message about economic growth. There was certainly no acknowledgement over the overspending.

This president doesn't think we do overspend. That's a very sad and very difficult situation, but, hey, we have got to do what we can in Congress. If we can avoid sending in bloated bills, it's -- it's hard for him to insert things in them.

Look, we have got to fight this on all fronts because we're not on a sustainable fiscal path and we have got to get there for the sake of our economy and our future.

CAVUTO: You're in the minority, though, in the Senate, and Chuck Schumer is already talking about, lo and behold, a budget, but one that will have still more tax increases in it. What do you think of that?

TOOMEY: Well, one of the good things is, it's hard to do things like that in the Senate if you don't have a preexisting law that does it for you. And they don't have that anymore.

So I think we're done with the revenue discussion. That's over. Now it's about getting spending under control, and I think Republicans are going to be pretty united on this, I hope very united, because we need to save this country from the fiscal ruin that awaits us if we stay on this road.

CAVUTO: What do you think has happened to your fellow Republicans? It's like they lost their backbone.

TOOMEY: Oh, I don't know about that, Neil. I think that when I talk to my fellow senators, there's a really strong resolve to make some progress on this front.

We got big battles coming up. I think we have got to make sure that the savings of the sequester stays in place. I hope we can shift it around a little bit, but we can't spend more than that. And when the continuing resolution expires, the law that funds the government through March, we have got to make sure that a continuation doesn't occur at a higher spending level.

We just can't afford that. I think my colleagues on our side of the aisle will be engaged in that fight to preserve those things, but we will be battling a president who wants ever more spending. So, we will see how it plays out.

CAVUTO: All right, we will. Senator, thank you very much. Good seeing you again.

TOOMEY: Thanks for having me, Neil.

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